The A Word is a BBC drama television series following a 5-year-old boy and how his dysfunctional family cope with the fact that he has autism. The series was filmed in the beautiful surroundings of the Lake District and is airing in a six parts (beginning 22 March)
Five-year-old Joe displays clear signs of communication problems, consistently isolating himself and playing rock music through his headphones. He has a vast knowledge of the songs he listens to and accurately sings along to the lyrics. However, his Mum and Dad; Alison and Paul, seem oblivious to the disorder and wonder why their child is behaving differently to other children of the same age. Other family members know there is a problem, but their attempts to help are met with contempt from Joe’s parents. After originally believing Joe had hearing problems, Joe is referred to a specialist who diagnoses Joe with autism. The series then follows how the family cope with Joe’s situation and their own apparent social disorders.
Although it’s hard to understand why some of the characters make the choices that they do in The A-Word, I can see that the idea behind this mini-series is to portray a flawed family whom are struggling to come together in a time of need. It conveys to us that we are all, in fact, imperfect humans and should we be in this situation we might also act irrationally or cause conflict with one another.
My younger sibling is also on the autistic spectrum, although my family were fortunate enough to know right from my mother’s pregnancy that my sibling would have a learning difficulty. Therefore we were able to support my sibling from birth and they’re now able to interact with others as any other teenager would. And so my younger self can certainly relate to the character Rebecca; Joe’s older sibling. She also often feels left out, as Joe – or any child being on the autistic spectrum – can unintentionally attract and need much more of their parents attention. Although this is not their fault, it almost certainly happens in one way or another for most families. I want to particularly praise the BBC for the way that this is demonstrated in the series.
Overall I think that this series is a definite worthwhile watch, it is currently being shown on Tuesdays at 9pm – catch up on BBC IPlayer.